Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh in his dissenting opinion last Friday said his colleagues’ ruling in the Liberty Party and Unity Party versus National Elections Commission case ignored the glaring discrepancies and evidence of gross irregularities during the October 10 polls that required a rerun of the elections.
The majority ruling, supported by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Associate Justices Philip A. Z. Banks, Jamesetta Wolokollie and Sie-A-Nyene favored a runoff election as opposed to a rerun as prayed for by the appellants (LP and UP).
The ruling read by Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks said: “It is the considered opinion of this Court that the ruling of the NEC’s Board of Commissioners declaring a runoff election is hereby affirmed.”
Associate Justice Banks added that the Supreme Court cannot sanction a rerun as the evidence provided did not merit an annulment of the October 10 elections.
Associate Justice Ja’neh opined, however, that the conclusions reached by his colleagues that irregularities established by the appellants were not sufficient to invalidate the outcome of the October 10 polls is deeply disconcerting and frustrating.
“This position by my colleagues ignores undeniable truth, most especially after one of NEC’s commissioners, Lamin Lighe, admitted to errors (irregularities), but did not present evidence that demonstrated that these errors were corrected during the conduct of the elections.
“Also, the majority fully concedes, recognizes and accepts that there is a need to do a complete cleansing of the elections system which appellants complained were one of the reasons for irregularities and fraud, but opted not to go for a rerun.
“And after the majority acknowledged that some fraud did occur and that NEC has a dirty voter roll, they convincingly ignored the size of the dirt that needs to be cleaned and disregard the impact, now recognized to exist, that it had on the elections,” Justice Ja’neh said.
The Associate Justice added that the court does not presently know the actual size of the problem faced by the NEC, which is critical to ensuring the full implementation of the order given by the court, including the cleansing of the system.
“Considering this dirt, my colleagues recognized, (and looking at its impact), I see this as a strict non-compliance with the Liberian Constitution and election laws,” Justice Ja’neh said. “And the numerous acts by NEC or people in its employ were indisputably fraudulent and calculated to cheat. Some of these acts include the assignment of votes to candidates far exceeding the threshold of the votes for many polling places.”
The dissenting Supreme Court Justice also said he is deeply troubled and perturbed by his colleagues’ attitude to downplaying the ‘very crucial’ plaintiff-witness testimony of US-trained Liberian IT/data expert, Jeff Gbleebo.
“The data expert’s analysis discovered two separate voter rolls and missing polling places amounting to some 35,000 registered voters and discovered 58 pages of voters registration numbering 200 voters; same ID number to multiple names. These testimonies of Gbleebo and other appellant witnesses stand no rebuttal by NEC, but my colleagues ignored it,” Justice Ja’neh said.